Updated on 2/9/2022
As a holiday celebrating all types of love and connection, Valentine’s Day has the chance to be meaningful and enjoyable for all. Yet, the holiday has a way of putting people into two, very distinct romantic categories: single vs. taken. Even those content with being single can start feeling deficient on Valentine’s Day, which is understandable as singles might experience an overwhelming sense of isolation during this time.
It might seem like happy couples are surrounding you wherever you look, whether they’re delivering gifts to each other at work, crowding your favorite restaurant, or taking over your Instagram feed. These instances can all contribute to a feeling of deficiency. Once this feeling kicks in, it can be challenging to reroute it and regain composure with your sanity intact. If you’re single and looking for meaningful ways to celebrate the holiday without feeling down, you’ve come to the right place.
Therapist Tips to Make the Most of Valentine’s Day When Single
Here are some things you can do to ensure that you don’t let yourself get down in the dumps or fall into loneliness on Valentine’s Day from Talkspace therapist Dr. Meaghan Rice, PsyD, LPC.
- Paint the full picture. If we must think about Valentine’s Day in terms of two categories, it’s only fair that we consider the pros vs. cons of each. Taken people have far more restrictions in terms of how they live their lives than single people. Take advantage of all your independence and do your thing.
- Find gratitude before we jump into our day. Grateful for family? Friends? Your home? The weather? Your pets? Acknowledge it by writing it down. Finding even 2 minutes to acknowledge things we’re grateful for adds to our overall happiness, resilience, and feelings of connection and worth.
- Expand your interpersonal connections. Tell yourself: “Today, I am going to initiate an emotional connection with one more person than I did yesterday.” Intentionally reaching out and embracing authentic connections with others fills us up in ways beyond what a single intimate partner can provide. As complex humans, we thrive off of connections with people who feed our various interests and desires. This is a great time to embrace ways you can expand your feelings of worth and value by reaching out to someone who you want to get to know better. Look at Valentine’s Day in terms of the opportunity for initiating close connection rather than a spot of deficiency.
- Have something to look forward to. Get ahead of negative thoughts and feelings by organizing enjoyable activities for the day. Do you have other friends who are also single? If so, use the day as an opportunity to catch up with them and just enjoy each other’s company. Schedule a date night, go for a massage, or try a new place for lunch. Making plans with others and getting outside can help reduce any feelings of loneliness. If all your friends are attached, think about that personal list of things you’ve been putting off. Start that new book you’ve been wanting to read, catch up on all your TV shows, check out that hike and bike trail you’ve been eyeing.
- Prioritize self care. If the day is about relationships why not celebrate the relationship you have with yourself? The other kind won’t work if you don’t have that. Create a ritual that incorporates self-love before love for others. Light a candle, do a complete skin care routine, take a trip to a coffee shop, buy yourself a little gift.
Hopefully these tips help you have a healthy and happy Valentine’s day, no matter your relationship status. If you still happen to find yourself feeling down on Valentine’s Day, however, read on for more tips to reduce the negativity as best you can.
Therapist Techniques to Reduce Negative Self-talk
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Learning how to reduce negative thoughts is a helpful skill, especially if you’re prone to these pesky emotions on Valentine’s Day. Dr. Meaghan Rice, PsyD, LPC suggests these four tips to help you keep a clear, positive mindset.
- Find groundedness. DBT, or dialectical behavior therapy, teaches us that mindfulness practices, such as grounding exercises (like using your senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, etc.) can help us feel calmer, live in the present moment, and guide us to control our own thoughts. It also helps us manage symptoms of anxiety and depression. You can find groundedness by paying attention to all the blue things in the room. Suck on something sour and focus on the sensation. Listen closely to the noises around you.
- Allow your physical body to guide you away from negative mental chatter. Practice some physically intensive mountain climbers, jumping jacks, or burpees. All of these activities require your full attention.
- Question yourself. Ask yourself: are these thoughts productive? Are they really helping you reach the best version of yourself?
- Confide in others. Ask a friend if you can land something on them, not to fix necessarily, but just to get it out of your head. Take control by making a phone call to someone that you know will leave you feeling better
Prioritize Time For Self-Reflection
If what you really want is a committed relationship, let’s take a moment to figure out why you don’t have that. Be honest with yourself. Seriously. Are you putting yourself out there? That doesn’t necessarily mean going out and socializing, but when the chance for a new relationship comes along, do you take it seriously? Consider these common mistakes people make when looking for a relationship.
Check Your Patterns
Take a moment and think of the last few people you’ve dated. Are there any patterns? Are you dating the same kind of person again and again? This can be a really tough one, because many people are attracted to partners that aren’t good for them or aren’t truly available. If you find this is something you struggle with, here’s the cold, hard truth: you’re going to have to make yourself stop it. Did you know when you fall in love, your brain is intoxicated with chemicals that keep you from seeing flaws in your partner? It’s true. Your judgment is completely out of whack during that head over heels state we all love so much, and it often leads to us picking the wrong people. So the best you can do is prepare for that moment before you get there, when you still have your good judgment.
Know What You’re Looking For, And Be Realistic
Nobody wants to date the person who has a long list of requirements for anyone they go out with. That’s not sexy. But knowing what you want? That’s sexy. Take some time and identify what you’re looking for in your life. Do you want children? Then you need to look for someone who will be a good parent. Is religion important to you? What does commitment mean to you, and are you looking for marriage? Thinking about your long-term goals will help you identify the things that you should direct your energy towards.
If You’re Really Looking for a Relationship, Prioritize It!
It’s not uncommon for people to expect love to fall in their laps, then find themselves frustrated when it hasn’t happened. The odds aren’t great that you’ll meet your sweetie when you’re sitting on your couch in sweatpants after another 16-hour workday. If finding a relationship is important to you, then treat it with the same value as you would in finding a new job or place to live. Dedicate the time to meeting new people and expanding your social circle.
One caveat here: Meeting new people and being available clearly aren’t the only important factors. Just because you put yourself out there to meet new people, doesn’t mean you’ll find the one you’re looking for right away. But one thing is for sure—you’re a lot less likely to meet Mr. or Mrs. Right if you don’t prioritize the search.
Would YOU Want to Date You?
Finally, and perhaps most importantly: be the kind of person you would want to date. Being courteous, interested in other people, and easygoing are traits most everyone is looking for, including the person you want to date.
Again, you won’t necessarily find your partner just by being likable, but you definitely won’t find him or her if you’re not.
Look Inwards with These Therapist Prompts
If you’re working to be the best version of yourself, Dr. Meaghan Rice, PsyD, LPC suggests that you consider opportunities for self improvement. Don’t be hard on yourself, just be honest and think about who you want to be as the best version of yourself.
- Can our mindset be better? Are we focusing on life as half-full or half-empty?
- What about our physical bodies? Are we happy with the fuel we give our bodies? What about the frequency or intensity of movement?
- Do we have a small group of really close friends? People that regularly practice reciprocity and keep showing up?
- What about our economic contribution? From being a stay-at-home caregiver to running a large corporation- does your contribution to the world feel valuable?
- What about where we see ourselves in the future? What’s the 1 year plan? 5 year plan? And does what we are doing today stand in alignment with the other timeframes?
Don’t let these questions be overwhelming, rather, think of them as a way to open up a personal conversation about your values and goals for the future.
Valentine’s Day is the chance to reflect on abundance, independent from what our relationship status is. We have more power to direct our thoughts in a purposeful way than fall into the societal box that often restricts us from being the best versions of ourselves. The best relationships that have two people that live really full lives and come together to share those things. These kinds of relationships, the most rewarding ones, typically don’t happen overnight, so if you’re going through a Valentine’s Day feeling deficit, gently remind yourself that your relationship status doesn’t get to define your worth. Let’s redirect our thoughts to a space that gives us a fair chance.
Sending positive vibes your way.